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Lawyers representing gig economy workers await government-commissioned report

Modern employment practices report due to be published

10 July 2017

Leigh Day, the lawyers acting for gig economy workers and the GMB trade union in most of the highest profile claims currently before the tribunals and courts, including Uber and Deliveroo, await the launch of the Matthew Taylor review into modern employment practices, due on Tuesday 11 July.

Taylor was commissioned by Theresa May in October last year to review working practices including at companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, whose drivers and riders are some of the claimants represented by Leigh Day in their claim for workers’ rights.  

Much speculation has surrounded the release of Taylor’s report, including how its recommendations will protect individuals who are denied workers’ rights by their employers and are instead treated as self-employed independent contractors – known as bogus self-employment.

Leigh Day made proposals in its submission to the review, seeking to ensure that workers could more easily enforce their rights and to give them greater protections than they currently have. The proposals included that:
 
  • a presumption of worker status should be introduced, so that workers would not need to bring claims to ensure they received workers rights. Instead a company would have to prove that its staff were not workers;
  • all employment rights, including the right to claim unfair dismissal, should extend to all workers;
  • penalties should be introduced to discourage employers from wrongly denying workers their rights;
  • care should be taken not to introduce new tests to define who is a worker, if they result in further hurdles for individuals to make claims and make it easier for employers to avoid liability.

Nigel Mackay, the solicitor representing Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders said:

“We welcome the launch of the Taylor Review and hope that it recommends far-reaching changes that would have a genuine positive impact on workers in the gig economy and beyond.

“Workers already have a number of employment rights and we must ensure that companies are no longer able to deny them those entitlements by misclassifying workers as self-employed independent contractors. There should be serious repercussions for companies that flout the rules and it should be easier for workers to enforce their rights.

“Much of the speculation about the release of the report has focused on the supposed need to retain flexibility for both workers and employers. However, as was clear from the judgment in the claim brought against Uber issued last October, there is nothing to stop individuals from working flexibly and still receiving rights such as paid holiday and national minimum wage.

“We hope that the Taylor review recognises that even where individuals work flexibly, they should be entitled to the same employment rights and protections as any other worker.

“We would also like to see those rights extended so that those in precarious work have protection against being dismissed at their employer’s whim.”

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